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Design Principles: Emphasis

Design Principles: Emphasis

What if a movie had no climax? A news article had no headline? A song had no refrain?

Establishing a hierarchy of importance is essential in a creative work. Unless you are Jackson Pollack, you will want some elements to stand out from the rest. The number one newbie mistake is trying to give everything equal emphasis. The result is that everything becomes lost.

Like any other rule, there are exceptions: when you want to fade into the background, like elevator music or wallpaper, or when you join the cacophony, like a wall of posters or graffiti. Remember, when everything demands attention, very likely it will all be tuned out.

How to create emphasis? Make it bigger is the most obvious way, but there are others. Adding contrast is the most effective. Use color—bright colors stand out from neutrals. Add space around something to draw attention to it. Shine a light on it. Once you have your style of emphasis, use it in different degrees to create a hierarchy. Only you know where you want the audience to direct their attention, so put the emphasis there.

In the above example, the big fish is swimming in a different direction from the rest. If you are bold enough to stand out from your competition, I want to work with you. Design strategy is a tool we can use to reach your goals.

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